Three days after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan recited an Islamic prayer to honor the Ottoman conqueror of Istanbul, Russian President Vladimir Putin extended a greeting to the Greek Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew I. The Russian government made sure to refer to Bartholomew by his official title, “Patriarch of Constantinople,” using the Christian name for the city. Putin called to relay well wishes from the Russian Orthodox Patriarch, Kirill, and thank him for his work in attempting to unite the Orthodox churches. Bartholomew I, as Patriarch of Constantinople, lives in Istanbul and presides over the Church of St. George in Fener, a district of the city.The call came during Putin’s current visit to Ankara on Tuesday to discuss domestic relations with Erdogan as well as their growing united front in Syria, nominally against the Islamic State but also affecting the anti-ISIS Kurdish forces in the country. While Putin is one of the most powerful patrons supporting Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, and Erdogan has repeatedly called Assad a “terrorist,” the two have come to a cooperative understanding on their involvement in Syria. According to the official Kremlin dispatch, “the Patriarch of Constantinople congratulated Vladimir Putin on his victory in the presidential election and wished him a happy Easter.” Putin… Read full this story
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